Facebook Application Development For Dummies
First, Facebook changed the face of online marketing; then it changed the face of online commerce. Anyone interested in marketing material online has to reckon with the world of Facebook, and to that end, they'll need some knowledge of Graph API (Facebook's development language) and a basic understanding of setting up a Facebook Page. Additionally, understanding where to find good example applications and where to turn for help will be of great use.
Finding Good Facebook Applications
There are millions of applications on Facebook. Finding the perfect one for your business's Facebook Page can be a difficult process. Here are some apps that are worth checking out:
RSS Graffiti: RSS Graffiti allows you to easily import news and info from your other sites (anything with an RSS Feed) to your Facebook Page or Profile. The app provides options to define the title of the imported info, and to change the way the text appears when it shows up in your stream.
AppBistro: AppBistro is your one-stop shop for finding apps on Facebook. By viewing your Facebook profile and the Pages you're an admin of, AppBistro determines the best apps for your Page. Come here if you're just browsing and trying to find apps for your Facebook Page.
Lujure: Lujure allows you to build custom Facebook Page tabs in a nice, WYSIWYG interface. Tell it what you want on the tab, and it creates a custom tab for you in a very simple way. This app will help you get something off the ground even if you don't know anything about Facebook development.
SocialToo: SocialToo allows you to post to Twitter from your Facebook profile. Want to just use Facebook's interface? SocialToo allows you to link a Facebook account and Twitter account, and to post status updates, links, and Places checkins to Twitter straight from Facebook. In addition, they have custom promotions packages for your business (such as offering giveaways to people who have liked your Facebook Page). SocialToo provides many other features for Twitter as well.
Group Deals: Group Deals has a lot of potential. It allows you to offer deals to people that have liked your Page on the condition that a certain number of people have signed up for the deal. The more friends a user has invited, then, the more likely the deal is to happen.
Payvment: If you do e-commerce, you'll want to look at Payvment. Payvment gives you simple tools to enable shopping-cart functionality in a social experience. Right on your Facebook Page, you can start selling items from your store in no time, and your users can see the items their friends are most interested in to help them in their purchase choice.
Slideshare: Do you do a lot of presentations? Slideshare can be a great way to show off your presentations right on your Facebook Page. Just add the app to your Facebook Page, and visitors can see your latest presentations right in a simple link on the left of the Page.
Finding Development Help on Facebook
Finding help on Facebook can often be a difficult task. If you're a social strategist at a large organization, chances are you have an account rep at Facebook that can help you when you run into problems. However, most people don't have access to these types of resources. Here is a list of resources that can help you when you find yourself in a pickle:
The Facebook Developer Forum: Here you can ask questions of other developers on Facebook. This should always be one of your first destinations when you have questions or run into a problem. Frequently, Facebook employees also monitor this forum and will occasionally chime in to help.
The Facebook Group for Facebook Application Development For Dummies: Here is a Facebook Group you can go to and ask questions of other developers also reading the book. Here you can ask questions in an even more intimate environment.
The Facebook Page for Facebook Application Development For Dummies: This can be a great resource to subscribe and get updates when new Facebook news comes out, or when information in the book has been updated. Be sure to click "like" on this page to subscribe and get updates in your News Feed.
Contact Facebook: Believe it or not, you can contact Facebook. They often require a couple of weeks, but they do respond to questions and issues. To try contacting them, just go here and fill out the form.
Facebook's Help Documentation: Go here to find all sorts of documentation and answers to the most common problems on Facebook. Search carefully here, as there's a good chance your question has been answered before.
Comments in Facebook's Documentation: In some of Facebook's developer documentation pages, they allow comments at the bottom of the documentation. These areas can be invaluable if you have a question about the specific content of the documentation. Ask your questions there and see if you get an answer, either from a Facebook employee or another savvy developer.
How to Set Up Your Facebook Page
Setting up a Facebook Page for your business is simple! Just go through these steps and your business will be collecting fans and connecting with customers on Facebook in no time:
Go to http://facebook.com/pages.
A list with numerous Facebook Pages should appear. You can also see the Facebook Pages you have liked and any other Facebook Page you admin on this Page.
Click Create Page.
It's the big square button in the upper-right.
Select the topic for your Facebook Page.
You'll see a page with six squares, each with a different topic. Pick the topic most relevant to your Page. You may want to sift through the topics to see what categories are most relevant to your Page.
Select the category for your Facebook Page.
Depending on the category you choose, different form fields will appear for you.
Enter a name for your Facebook Page.
Pick something that is SEO-friendly. Choose wisely: you can only change this name when you have 100 fans!
Click the Get Started button.
And you're done! From here, add a graphic to your Page and fill out your Info section; click Edit Page and customize your administrators, permissions, and other information to your liking; start posting things to your fans; and invite a few new fans from your list of friends.
Understanding Graph API — or Facebook Development — Syntax
Understanding the basic syntax of Facebook's Graph API is all you need to get started in Facebook development. Graph API's simple syntax is this:
Domain: This will always be https://graph.facebook.com/
Object: This can be any object on Facebook. You can choose a user name or id of an object. This can be a user, a Page, an event, a post — any single item on Facebook with an ID should work in this field.
Connection: After the object, you may specify elements of that object you would like to retrieve. This can be a feed or friends list, for example. Use metadata=1 as a parameter to learn what connections are available to the object you are accessing.
Parameters: Here you can specify specific parameters to return nuanced data from Facebook. Use the fields parameter, for instance, to designate what fields should be returned.
Now type these sample Graph API calls into your browser. You will quickly learn how easy it is to get started using Graph API!:
https://graph.facebook.com/dummiesbook — Returns data about this book's Facebook Page.
https://graph.facebook.com/dummiesbook/feed — Returns the feed (in paged format) for this book's Facebook Page.
https://graph.facebook.com/dummiesbook/picture — Returns the picture for this book's Facebook Page.
https://graph.facebook.com/http://staynalive.com — Returns data about my blog, as a Facebook Page.
https://graph.facebook.com/dummiesbook?metadata=1 — By specifying metadata=1, meta data will be returned specifying what connections are available for me to access about this book's Facebook Page.